Melanin Magic: Dermatologist Breaks Down The Science Behind ‘Black Don’t Crack’

African american woman touching face

What is it about Black skin that doesn’t seem to fade with time? Cicely Tyson, Halle Berry, Jada Pinkett Smith, Angela Bassett and countless more are gifted with the grace of timeless beauty. Is it something in our Black skin that keeps us looking fine as wine past the hands of time, or is it just a myth that we’ve been telling ourselves for years? Nationally recognized dermatologist, Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield III, talks to us about Black skin and why many believe that “Black don’t crack.”

BlackDoctor.org: People say, “Black don’t crack.” What’s in Black skin that allows it to stay so youthful and vibrant?

Dr. Crutchfield: This is really an old-fashioned statement that I’ve heard that I don’t use. It essentially means that with increased melanin there is increased sun protection and not as much sun damage, and as a result skin of color does not have as many wrinkles. This is really an evolutionary adaptation to protection from ultraviolet radiation. The closer a person lived to the equator, the more natural protection they needed from the sun. Although I do tell patients no matter what your skin color, from snow white to dark chocolate brown, your skin only has a natural SPF of about 8 so it’s always important to supplement.

BlackDoctor.org: What role does the biological chemical melanin play in skin protection and health? Do other melanated races have the same type of results?

Dr. Crutchfield: Once again, this is an old evolutionary molecule that acts as an umbrella to protect the cells from DNA damage and mutation which can lead to skin cancer. The interesting thing is that no matter what color you are everybody has the same number of melanocytes or the cells that produce melanin.The only difference in skin color is the amount of melanin that is produced. Once again this is an evolutionary adaptation to protect from ultraviolet radiation damage.